Autumn Killing is the third book in the Malin Fors series by Mons Kallentoft. The series so far has been distinguished by excellent characterisation and a fragmented narrative style that has suited the often disturbing plots. Kallentoft has taken a brave stance with some of the themes in his books. In thrillers we normally get a resolution of sorts, but Kallentoft has deliberately kept the assault of a young woman unresolved throughout the series. Here, the case is mentioned once more but the overriding theme of Autumn Killing is the disintegration of Malin Fors as the result of her alcohol dependency.
Malin is leading the investigation into the death of Jerry Petersson, a self-made internet billionaire who has used his wealth to acquire Skogså Castle. The family who were ousted from their former ancestral home come under suspicion when Petersson is found dead in the moat, although a teenage car accident seems to hold the key to the killing. Meanwhile Malin, who finished the previous book Summertime Death sharing a home with her daughter Tove and ex-husband Janne, is imploding under the strain of family life. Her drinking is now out of control and impacting on her colleagues, family and the investigation.
Although the effects of Malin’s disintegration dominated this book, I found the portrayal to be moving and entirely realistic. Malin’s denials, puffy face, alcohol tainted breath and skewed view of the world gave her a powerful presence in the book. Tantalisingly, Kallentoft has added another mystery to this book, with hints of an incident in Malin’s childhood which may account for her behaviour. I thought the murder investigation got slightly overshadowed by the focus on Malin’s self-destruction but it still made for a powerful read.
As usual, the book is written in the present tense which I know isn’t to everyone’s taste but adds an immediacy to the writing. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the narrative is very choppy, with short sections taking the reader around the plot through the eyes of different characters. I like this style although once more, we had the narrative voice of the dead man which I’m not keen on.
With Kallentoft’s writing we get a slightly different view of society than that presented by other crime writers. His books are set in Linkoping, a Swedish town with none of the provincial feel of, say Camilla Lackberg’s Fjällbacka. Instead there is an ever-present sense of foreboding. As Autumn Killing is the third book in a quartet I suspect the fourth book, Savage Spring, is likely to the strongest of the series, where divergent plot strands finally come together. I’m looking forward to it.
Thanks to Hodder for sending me a copy of the book.